Childhood Adversity and Passive Suicidal Ideation in Later Life in the United States: Does Religious Attendance Matter?

J Relig Health. 2023 Dec;62(6):3739-3759. doi: 10.1007/s10943-023-01917-1. Epub 2023 Sep 29.


This study examines whether adverse childhood experiences are associated with passive suicidal ideation in later life and whether religious attendance moderates this association among U.S. older adults. To this end, logistic regression analyses were conducted using data from the 2016 Health and Retirement Study. The results show that poor childhood health, lack of parental affection, and childhood trauma are all positively associated with passive suicidal ideation in later life. However, religious attendance modifies the association between childhood health and passive suicidal ideation. For instance, poor childhood health is associated with greater odds of passive suicidal ideation only for older adults who never attend religious services, while this is not the case for those who attend religious services. Yet, the associations of parental affection and childhood trauma with passive suicidal ideation do not appear to differ by religious attendance. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings for views about childhood adversity, religion, and suicide risk in later life.

Keywords: Childhood adversity; Passive suicidal ideation; Religion; Stress process model.

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Religion
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • United States / epidemiology